EU referendum: Odds on UK exit lengthen as pressure grows to give 16 and 17-year-olds a vote

But a Tory MP says young people 'aren't really interested'

Adam Withnall
Tuesday 26 May 2015 15:56 BST
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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, meets Prime Minister David Cameron at Chequers
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, left, meets Prime Minister David Cameron at Chequers

The odds of the UK voting to leave the EU have been lengthened amid growing pressure for 16- and 17-year-olds to be given a say in a promised referendum.

Downing Street has announced that the rules for who can take part in the in/out vote, set to take place before the end of 2017, will roughly follow those of general elections – meaning under-18s will miss out.

And Tory MP John Redwood sparked controversy by claiming it was a “myth” that the inclusion of 16- and 17-year-olds in the vote would make it more likely for Britain to vote to stay in the economic bloc.

“I did meetings in schools before the general election,” he said. “No one who was 16 or 17 at those meetings was saying that they specifically wanted to have a vote on the EU issue, because they weren't really interested in the EU issue.”

The proposal to deny young people a vote attracted criticism for David Cameron on Monday, and saw Labour, the SNP and the Lib Dems united in calling for a change to the rules.

And the odds of the UK voting to leave the EU have now lengthened with bookmaker William Hill, from 2/1 to 9/4. The betting company shortened the odds of Britain staying in to 1/3.

Mr Cameron hosted the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday and Tuesday for initial talks over EU reform.

On Thursday Mr Cameron will fly to Denmark for a working breakfast with his counterpart Helle Thorning-Schmidt, going on to the Netherlands to meet Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte before ending the day with talks over dinner at the Elysee Palace with French president Francois Hollande.

On Friday, the Prime Minister will travel to Warsaw for discussions with prime minister Ewa Kopacz in Warsaw before concluding the trip in Berlin where he will hold talks with chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Prime Minister hopes to talk to all other 27 leaders of EU member states individually before the European Council summit at the end of next month.

One bookmaker is currently offering odds on which country will be the next to leave the EU. Betfair listed Greece as narrow favourites on 4/6, ahead of the UK on 11/10.

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